Your Guide to Dairy

Is dairy a healthy food? Most people in the world do not eat dairy. And in fact, many people in the world find it disgusting that we Americans drink it. To them, the idea of feeding our babies (or ourselves) breast milk from another animal species is repulsive. In the same way we find eating bugs, horses, or dogs strange, they find drinking cow’s milk strange.

 

 

We are told to drink as much as three cups of skim milk per day. Because milk is a good source of calcium, Vitamin D, potassium, this seems on the surface to be a good idea, especially since Americans are frequently deficient in these nutrients. But research shows that not only does milk consumption not prevent osteoporosis or bone fractures, but it has many other highly negative effects as well.

I’m convinced that dairy isn’t good for my family, and I’ve taken us off it almost completely (we do have our gluten-free pizza once or twice a month, and the occasional scoop of ice cream!). Take a look at the evidence below, and make your own decision about dairy’s effect on your health.

 

Dairy and Lactose Intolerance

After age 4, most people lose the ability to digest lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy. That is because we stop producing lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose. Worldwide, between 60 and 75% of people are lactose intolerant. If you descended from a herding population, it is more likely that you can tolerate lactose. Lactose intolerance produces symptoms such as rumbling gut, explosive diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.

 

Dairy and Casein Intolerance

Casein is a protein found in dairy. It is similar in structure to the protein gluten and often creates the same kind of havoc that gluten does in a susceptible person. The science is not definitive, but some research suggests that casein can harm the gut and make it permeable in the same way that gluten does. However, it is well established that if you already have a leaky gut, the casein proteins will leak into your bloodstream just as gluten proteins do. At that point, your immune system may react to them as a foreign invader. Then an overactive immune system may engage in molecular mimicry and see self proteins as the same as the casein proteins, triggering an autoimmune reaction and autoimmune symptoms. Autoimmune disease that can react to casein proteins include Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis, among others.

 

Dairy and Cancer

Some research has shown that dairy is related to cancer. It is thought that the betacellulin in dairy activates our IGF receptors, which is linked to certain cancers such as ovarian and prostate cancer. Interestingly, though, it appears that this only happens when betacellulin is separated from its natural fats. This is because CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is found in full-fat dairy, appears to directly cancel out the effect of betacellulin on cancer cells. So, lowfat and skim milk appear to be related to ovarian and prostate cancers, while whole milk does not. And in fact, whole milk appears to be protective in the case of colorectal cancer or neutral. Furthermore, milk from grass-fed cows contains five times more CLA than milk from conventionally raised cows, providing further evidence that grass-fed trumps conventional when it comes to cattle.

 

Dairy and Insulin Response

Dairy has an ability to greatly increase blood sugar, and therefore cause a large burst of insulin to be secreted. One cup of milk, regardless of fat content, contains 8-9 grams of protein and 12-13 grams of carbohydrate. The big difference, of course, is fat content, ranging from 1 gram for skim milk to 8 grams for whole milk. So the carbs are the same, but the fat content is different. This is crucial because the fat content mitigates the effect of those carbs on blood sugar. The more fat that is present in the milk (as in whole milk), the less the blood sugar rises, the lower the insulin response. The less fat that is present in the milk (as in skim milk), the more the blood sugar rises and the greater the insulin response. So, lowfat milk is highly insulinogenic – that is, it spikes your blood sugar, then as the insulin removes the sugar from your blood, your blood sugar plummets, leaving you….hungry again.

Research has shown that feeding cow’s milk to children can actually cause them to become insulin resistant. In one such study, 24 8-year-old boys were put on a high milk diet for one week. After just one week, all the boys became insulin resistant. And since we know that insulin resistance can lead to metabolic syndrome, which can lead to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, this is a very undesirable outcome. The boys’ insulin resistance disappeared after the milk in their diet was replaced by meat.

 

Dairy and A2 Issues

Bet you didn’t know that there are two types of cows ! Well, okay, there are more than that, but for our purposes here we want to distinguish between A1 and A2 cows. A1 cows produce milk that, upon digestion, produces a chemical called BCM7. BCM7 causes problems for some people, namely nasal congestion and excess mucus production, joint pain, digestive issues, and leaky gut.

Most conventional milk is from A1 cows. There is a label put on the milk produced by A2 cows. It says “A2 – Feel the Difference.” If you suspect you might be having a problem with A1 milk, you can look for this label. I’ve read that it’s out there, but I’ve never found it myself. So good luck with that!

 

Dairy and Other Issues

Okay, so here is a laundry list of other documented, researched relations between dairy and some common health problems:

Dairy is related to infant colic

  • Dairy at ages 1-2 years increase risk of Type 1 Diabetes
  • Dairy is related to autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, ulcerative colits, and Crohn’s
  • Meta-analyses worldwide have shown a relation between dairy and Parkinson’s Disease
  • Recent studies show a relation between dairy and asthma and excess mucus production
  • Large epidemiological studies show dairy is related to acne
  • Dairy has been shown to promote heart disease via a variety of mechanisms not related to fat content
  • High levels of estrogens in milk promote risk for breast and ovarian cancer in women and prostate and testicular cancer in men
  • High calcium content of dairy impairs absorption of zinc, iron and magnesium

 

Dairy and Effects of Modern Processing

Pasteurization and homogenization causes a reduction in Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and K. It also destroys the beneficial enzymes that help the body to digest lactose. And it has reduced CLA (remember, CLA helps protect against cancer).

We further deplete the nutrition in milk by removing the fat from it to produce skim and lowfat milk. The vitamins and minerals, as well as the CLA, are stored in the fat portion of milk. So by drinking lowfat milk, we are actually reducing the amount of important nutrients.

 

Dairy – It’s Your Call

Many, many people have problems with dairy. Some people are lactose intolerant, some are casein intolerant, some develop cancer, some become insulin resistant, some get congested, some get autoimmune disease. You often don’t know that you are dairy intolerant until you do a dairy challenge. So we recommend that everyone doing Fit4God do a 2-4 week dairy challenge. Simply take all sources of dairy out of your diet for anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, then reintroduce it and see what happens. For many people the answer is obvious that dairy was causing problems and they choose to eliminate it from their diets.

On the other hand, many other people do just fine with dairy…or at least some kinds of dairy. High-fat dairy can be a delicious, easy way to get more fat into your diet, and that is something we definitely advocate! Some heavy whipping cream in your coffee is a delicious way to up your dietary fat, and it keeps you so full that your body fat is likely to disappear! Cheese can be a nice addition to salads and Mexican dishes, kefir is a wonderful probiotic, and butter adds rich flavor to veggies while helping you absorb the veggies’ nutrients.

If you find that you can tolerate dairy, and if you are not worried about the possible cancerous effects (after all, this research is still developing), then by all means enjoy some dairy in your diet.

Just one more caveat, though: Anecdotally, many women over the age of 40 or 50 have found that dairy significantly slows or halts their weight loss. This is sometimes also true of younger women or even men. So if you are doing Fit4God and you are not seeing the weight loss results you desire, try cutting out dairy and see what happens.

 

If You’re Going to Eat Dairy, Here’s How

Your first best bets for dairy are raw, fermented full-fat dairy such as uncultured butter, yogurt and cheese. The fermentation process reduces and or eliminates lactose and may also affect casein.

Your second best bet is raw, high-fat dairy such as raw butter, raw cream, and raw ghee. These foods have very little lactose and casein.

Third best is raw whole milk as an occasional indulgence.

And finally, you can choose organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free full fat dairy such as heavy whipping cream, half and half, and pastured butter.

 

Be Healthy, Be Strong, Be Fit4God!

Kathy

 

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